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Sociology Faculty - Douglas Smith

Dr. Douglas Smith

Dr. Douglas Smith

Professor and Head of Sociology

Office:  Grise Hall 126
Phone:  (270) 745-3750


Community, Environment and Natural Resources Sociology, Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methodology, Social Psychology, Social Movements, Education, Rural Health and Poverty.


Simultaneously, I have worked on many projects with undergraduates, graduate students and faculty. These have included projects on:

  • community (community field theory, as well as a 100-year community restudy), education (examining education test scores, scholastic audits of schools, and perceptions of alternative schooling).
  • environment and natural resources (human-wildlife conflict in Kenya, the effects of wildland fire on community).
  • health (the community context of well-being).
  • the Internet and video gaming (the effect of gaming on relationships and leadership, the effect of classroom computer use and internet access on education test scores).
  • migration (the effect of return migration on Appalachia, the assimilation of Burmese and Iraqi refugees).
  • work (the cyclicality of employment).

I and my coauthors have presented these projects at statewide, regional, national and international conferences. 

While much of my time during this period has been spent teaching and doing research with students and colleagues, I have coauthored (with James Grimm, Gene Theodori, and A.E. Luloff) an article in Research in the Sociology of Health Care. I also have two articles–one on support of hard, soft, and conservation energy paths among Texans (coauthored with Jessica Aldridge and Gene Theodori) and one on perceptions of the nursing profession (with Sherry Lovan and Steven Miller)–under review with other journals.

Speaking of journals, I was the editor-in-chief of Southern Rural Sociology (which recently changed its name to The Journal of Rural Social Sciences) from 2006 to 2010. While I have passed those duties over to others, I remain the Managing Editor and webmaster for the journal until 2013. I will also be serving as an Assistant Editor on Sociological Inquiry during the same period.


PhD, Pennsylvania State University.

Over my career, I have become a very eclectic sociologist. I was trained to work in the interstices of community, environment, social movements, and social psychology, although I often ventured outside these spaces. My intellectual roaming is more constrained now that I am Head of the Sociology Department at WKU. Still, let me tell you a little bit about what I have done recently and what I continue to do.

During the last five years, I taught undergraduate courses on collective behavior and social movements, disasters and the sociology of risk, environment and natural resources sociology, research methodology, social theory, symbolic interaction.  At the graduate level, I taught the proseminar to sociology as well as graduate courses on advanced data analysis, community sociology, research methodology, rural education, and rural poverty. (The syllabi for all these courses are available on my website.) Beyond teaching in the classroom, I also currently serve on eleven sociology M.A. theses and seven Ed.D. committees in the Educational Leadership program.

If you would like more detailed information about me or any of my activities, please visit my faculty website or send me an email. I am willing to talk with folks about my research or about any project ideas they might have. Some continuing areas of particular interest to me include: community theory; ecofeminism; environmental and natural resources crime; rural isolation; the relationship of place and space; the potential for different types of place attachment; community studies and restudies; and regional social movements.

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 Last Modified 1/27/15